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When social media influencer Jake Paul began his boxing career, most thought it was just a gimmick that would come to a quick end whenever Paul became bored or he suffered a loss. Paul did suffered his first loss in February but did not walk away from the sport and is now set to face former UFC superstar Nate Diaz on Saturday at American Airlines Center in Dallas.
After defeating a string of influencers, basketball players and former UFC fighters, Paul finally answered the critics who demanded he step in the ring to fight a “real boxer” when he clashed with Tommy Fury in February.
The fight was evenly matched and played out closely, with Paul scoring a late knockdown on a small counter shot. Despite the knockdown, Paul lost on two of the judges’ scorecards and dropped a split decision to his rival in a fight that had been made and canceled multiple times previously.
Rather than stepping away from boxing, as many expected would happen once the road was no longer smooth, Paul said he refocused himself after only a brief moment of contemplating retirement.
“I gave [retiring from boxing] one thought for about 25 seconds, and that was like that night and the next morning,” Paul said in a DAZN interview. “But I was just like, ‘Bro, stop. Just stop it.’ I was in a low, low, low, low place. I think it’s good to have that thought because once I expel it, I know that this is what I want.”
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Facing Diaz does feel like something of a step back for Paul. Again, he faces someone with no pro boxing experience coming from the world of mixed martial arts. And, again, he faces someone who spent his career fighting between 155 and 170 pounds. The fight will be contested at a 185-pound catchweight, making it technically a cruiserweight bout.
During an appearance on the Raw Talk podcast, Diaz admitted that putting on weight initially left him feeling “lazy and tired,” though he eventually managed to get back on track by changing his approach to adding size.
“I’ve been eating a lot of food and getting heavier,” Diaz said. “I did feel [slower] at first when I was eating and trying to get big because I was on a weight gain diet, eating all kinds of stuff to get as big as I could. To a certain point, I was like ‘Dude, I’m lazy and tired and I’m working out like a meathead right now’.
“I was lifting weights, bodybuilding and all that stuff. It made me tired and lazy from carrying the extra weight, just made me drowsy. At a certain point I just eased up on it and created a new plan, then I had a lot more energy and started doing more things. I was eating a lot at first and blowing up as much as I could, now I do a fast for half the day and get down when I get down.”
In his MMA career, Diaz has been a cardio machine, able to push the pace and wear on fighters. He was often able to use that pace and his awkward striking style to outbox opponents, even badly rocking current UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards in the final round of their June 2021 bout.
Diaz had talked up a fight with Paul over the past few years and when he completed his UFC contract with a dramatic submission win over former interim champion Tony Ferguson this past September, a clash between the two seemed certain.
Once Paul and Fury did not immediately engage in a rematch, the fight became a certainty.
Diaz will get a career-best paycheck from the fight, sharing a 50/50 split of the pay-per-view and has already announced that he would be interested in returning to the UFC. Beating Paul would certainly add a bit of extra leverage at those potential negotiations.
For Paul, step back in his career or not, the fight is now the most important in his career. Another loss would be devastating to any long-term hopes to become an actual contender at the championship level and would likely crush his status as a box office draw.
The undisputed women’s featherweight championship is also at stake on Saturday night. Amanda Serrano defends her crown against Heather Hardy in a rematch from their 2019 encounter. Hardy has only competed once since losing to Serrano four years ago in an unsuccessful bid against Jessica Camara. Serrano has gone 7-1 in that time frame losing only to undisputed women’s lightweight champion Katie Taylor.
Paul vs. Diaz card, odds
|Jake Paul -440||Nate Diaz +340||Cruiserweight (185-pound catchweight)|
|Amanda Serrano (c) -1600||Heather Hardy +900||Undisputed featherweight title|
|Shadasia Green -2500||Olivia Curry +1200||Super middleweight|
|Ashton Sylve -3000||William Silva +1300||Lightweight|
|Alan Sanchez||Angel Beltran Villa||Welterweight|
|Chris Avila||Jeremy Stephens||Super middleweight|
- Date: Aug. 5 | Start time: 9 p.m. ET
- Location: American Airlines Center — Dallas
- How to watch: ESPN+ PPV/DAZN PPV | Price: $59.99
Diaz has a few tools that may serve him well. His cardio has always been top-notch and he managed to push Paul to agree to make the fight 10 rounds rather than eight. That said, how will Diaz’s cardio hold up with more weight than he is used to and in a sport that operates differently from MMA?
Diaz’s awkward boxing was also a valuable tool in the cage. It will probably take Paul some time to adjust to Diaz’s rhythm and angles, but he is the more experienced boxer and should be able to cut off the ring while using his size to wear on Diaz.
Pure power is also in Paul’s favor. He has scored some massive knockouts in his career and even against Fury and Anderson Silva, who took him to the cards in close fights, Paul did score knockdowns. It is hard to look at this fight and think that Diaz can survive getting caught with the kind of bombs that Paul has landed on previous opponents. And Diaz being a man who has never fought at such a high weight means his punch resistance shouldn’t be expected to be as effective as in his UFC career.
This feels like a fight where Diaz takes an early round or two as Paul feels out the angles and lands some jabs before trapping Diaz and landing a few heavy shots that bring the fight to a sudden close. Pick: Jake Paul via KO4
Who wins Nate Diaz vs. Jake Paul, and which prop is a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see Peter Kahn’s best bets for Saturday, all from the boxing specialist who has netted his followers a profit of nearly $4,000, and find out.